Best Online Master’s in Behavioral Psychology Programs

Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online master's in behavioral psychology programs. Compare them by flexibility and cost to help you find your best path forward.

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Published on June 10, 2022 · Updated on June 16, 2022

Reviewed by Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

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Earning an online master's in behavioral psychology teaches students advanced knowledge of why humans behave as they do and how to treat behavioral disorders. Whether planning to continue into a doctoral program or enter the workforce after graduating, students graduate prepared for several outcomes.

Data from the College Board shows that master's degrees from public schools cost an average of $9,000 during the 2021-2022 academic year. Master's obtained from private institutions cost an annual average of $29,670. Graduates of these programs can look forward to projected job growth in the coming years and pursue high-paying jobs.

When looking at top online schools and deciding whether to go to graduate school, students often have questions. Keep reading to get answers to these questions and learn more about the outcomes of earning a master's in behavioral psychology.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

Is a master's in behavioral psychology worth it?

Earning an online master's in behavioral psychology makes a lot of sense for students who want to build on their psychological knowledge from their undergraduate degree. It also can prepare career-changers who are looking to enter the field. These programs usually require two years of full-time study and provide the qualifications and knowledge needed to compete for senior-level roles. Earning this degree can also lead to higher salaries than those with only an undergraduate degree.When asking these questions, potential students should also consider whether an online degree is worth it and if it fits their learning needs.

What can I do with a master's in behavioral psychology?

People who complete a master's in behavioral psychology can take their careers in many different directions. They can pursue more traditional counseling and therapy roles or those that depend more on behavioral insights and motivations, such as marketing and data analysis.Common job titles for graduates include marriage and family therapist, school counselor, survey researcher, and marketing manager. Graduates can also become addiction, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. Some students may also decide to continue their education by pursuing a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology to become licensed psychologists.

Are behavioral psychology graduates in demand?

The BLS projects jobs for behavioral disorder and mental health counselors to grow by 23% between 2020-2030, leading to the creation of more than 75,000 new positions. Meanwhile, jobs for marriage and family therapists are projected to grow by 16% in the same period, leading to 12,000 new positions by the end of the decade.The demand for roles more focused on marketing also looks promising. In particular, BLS data projects jobs for marketing managers to grow by 10% from 2020-2030, leading to 31,800 new openings.

How much money can I make with a master's in behavioral psychology?

Earning a master's degree in behavioral psychology can often lead to higher salaries than those available to bachelor's degree graduates. Addiction, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned median annual salaries of $48,520 in May 2021. Marriage and family therapists made median yearly salaries of $49,880. School counselors earned slightly more with median salaries of $60,510 annually.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in behavioral psychology?

The highest-paying jobs for graduates of master's in behavioral psychology degrees tend to be those focused on behavioral insights, including marketing positions. Survey researchers earned a median annual pay of $59,740 in May 2021. Marketing managers earn the highest wages as of May 2021. These professionals earned median yearly salaries of $133,380. Those in the top 10% of earners received salaries exceeding $208,000, while those in the bottom 10% took home about $77,680.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

Before enrolling in an online master's in behavioral psychology program, prospective students should determine whether this degree best fits their needs. People who typically pursue this study area tend to be analytical, research-oriented, and interested in understanding how and why humans behave as they do.Most programs consist of 30-48 credits and require about two years of full-time study. Accelerated programs may take as few as 18 months, while part-time options can take about three years to complete.

In addition to behavioral psychology courses, some schools also let students choose a concentration. Options vary by college, but common concentrations include addiction psychology, counseling psychology, and school psychology.

While coursework plays a central role in the degree, many programs also include an internship to build real-world skills and networking contacts before graduating. Students planning to continue in a doctoral program may decide to write a thesis or complete a capstone project.

When preparing for graduate school and earning a master's in behavioral psychology, students should carefully consider what they want to get out of the experience and choose a program that can deliver.

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Popular Online Behavioral Psychology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

Biological Foundations of Behavior

This course looks at the human components forming behaviors, including the nervous system. Students consider various ways of studying behavioral patterns and psychological functioning from both theoretical and practical frameworks.

Child Behavioral Assessment and Intervention

Proper assessments can help provide earlier interventions. This course looks at some of the techniques and instruments available for identifying behavioral issues.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Incorporating a neuroscience perspective, this course seeks to understand how brain functions such as motivation, perception, memory, and movement influence behaviors. Course topics also cover how behavioral psychologists can harness that knowledge.

Behavior Modification

Moving beyond behavioral perspectives and behavioral analysis, this course looks to apply behavioral modification principles to clinical disorders. Students review case studies of behavioral principles applied to both abnormal and normal behaviors.

Psychology of Food and Behavior

Designed to address issues arising around food addictions and eating disorders, this course looks at the biological, social, and psychological influences related to food behaviors. Students also consider how these behaviors can evolve across the lifespan.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students The Student's Guide to College Loans The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

Graduate admission requirements for an online master's in behavioral psychology program vary across programs. That's why it's important that students carefully review instructions from each school. Many institutions prefer candidates with an undergraduate background in psychology or a related subject. Some schools ask students with an unrelated bachelor's degree to complete prerequisites.

Particularly competitive master's in behavioral psychology programs may also require candidates to sit for an interview.

Application

The first step in gaining acceptance to an online master's in behavioral psychology involves submitting an application. Most college application systems are online now and require basic demographic information, such as the applicant's full name, date of birth, mailing address, and citizenship status.

Test Scores

Several master's in behavioral psychology programs require candidates to supply standardized test scores as part of the admissions process. GRE exams are the most common requirement, though some programs allow students with high GPAs or certain amounts of relevant professional experience to skip this requirement.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation help admission officers get a better sense of how other professionals and teachers view a student's preparedness for advanced degree rigors. These letters typically come from current and/or former professors, supervisors, volunteer managers, or mentors.

Resume and Work Experience

Letters of recommendation help admission officers get a better sense of how other professionals and teachers view a student's preparedness for advanced degree rigors. These letters typically come from current and/or former professors, supervisors, volunteer managers, or mentors.

Essays

Candidates write grad school essays to share what makes them a good fit for a master's in behavioral psychology. It also lets them discuss how they plan to use the degree after graduating and why they want to attend a specific program. These essays can help differentiate between applicants, so students should spend enough time crafting them.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts serve many purposes. In addition to helping admission officers confirm stated GPAs and ensure all prerequisite requirements have been met, they also help with transfer students. Officers use these documents to see which classes will transfer and how many credits these learners will receive upon admission.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Degree?

Career Outlook

Earning an online master's in behavioral psychology opens many professional doors for graduates. However, any person who wants to work as a licensed psychologist must earn a doctorate. Those with a master's degree can take on many advanced roles that allow for high salaries and leadership opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2019, more than 3.1 million individuals hold a psychology job and earn median annual wages of $50,000. Nearly 50% of these workers possess an advanced degree, as compared to 37% when considering all fields.

Graduates can work in many different fields, including counseling, substance misuse, marketing, and data analysis. The following section highlights career paths available to those with a master's degree.

See where a master's in behavioral psychology degree can take you.

Learn More About Behavioral Psychology Careers

Career Paths

Addiction, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

These professionals work with clients living with behavioral challenges, substance misuse, addiction, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. After evaluating patients, these counselors develop treatment plans and help clients work towards their goals. They may also provide counseling to family members of clients.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,520

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to address relational challenges. They help clients develop coping strategies and make decisions about their futures. They may also help connect clients with other relevant community resources such as treatment centers or support groups.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $49,880

School Counselors

Whether working in K-12 or higher education settings, school counselors help students address behavioral or social issues that affect their academics, friendships, and family relationships. After identifying how behavioral issues are causing problems (e.g., poor attendance, bullying, etc.), counselors help students and their families develop goals and work towards them. They may also make referrals to other professionals as needed.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,510

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design surveys to collect data and better understand human motivations. With their backgrounds, behavioral psychology graduates develop insightful questions that better help shed light on behaviors. They also assist clients with making more informed decisions about marketing strategies, product development, and expansion plans.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $59,740

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers work in companies in various industries to help build awareness of products and services and increase sales. In addition to using data to better understand what customers want, marketing managers develop promotional campaigns and create digital and print advertisements. They also contract with brand ambassadors and influencers, and conduct market research studies.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $133,380

Behavioral Psychology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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Continuing Education

Many graduates of master's in behavioral psychology programs move straight into professional roles. But some plan to continue their education to the doctoral level. Aspiring licensed professional psychologists must earn a doctorate, often either a Ph.D. or Psy.D.

Earning an online doctorate in psychology takes between 4-7 years to complete, depending on how quickly learners move through coursework and complete their dissertation. The Ph.D. typically appeals to those planning to conduct research or work in academia. The Psy.D. supports those who want to provide psychological services to patients.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Program?

Cost

Costs for a master's in behavioral psychology can vary widely, with private schools typically charging more than public institutions. Understanding the true cost of a program can help students avoid unintended extra loan debt and stick to their budget. They should also compare costs between online and in-person programs to find the best option.

Program Format

When looking at an online master's in behavioral psychology, it's not uncommon to come across both asynchronous and synchronous delivery formats. Students seeking more flexibility typically go for asynchronous programs to help balance personal, professional, and academic responsibilities. Learners must also consider whether a part-time or full-time schedule better works for their needs.

Location

Whether a student plans to attend online or in person, location can still play a factor. Some online programs require periodic campus visits or on-site residencies, making some students want to find a school within driving distance. Deciding whether to go to school on campus or online involves carefully considering many factors.

Accreditation

The American Psychological Association currently only accredits doctoral programs, so students will not find a master's program with APA accreditation. However, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredits master's in counseling programs, so some master's programs may hold this accreditation. Students can also still look for colleges and universities with institutional accreditation. When attending an online college, this becomes all the more important.

Student Support

Student support comes in many different forms and can take a college experience from satisfactory to impactful. The best master's in behavioral psychology programs provide access to mentorship opportunities, as well as top-tier internship locations. Students enrolled online can also ask about services specifically for distance learners.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

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Best Online Master's in Behavioral Psychology Programs

  1. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $10460

    The University of South Florida is a state research university with three campuses in the Tampa Bay region. Together, these locations serve more than 50,000 students, including about 11,000 learners enrolled in graduate programs. USF also offers a number of online programs, such as a master's in applied behavior analysis.

    Recent graduates of this 41-credit program boast a nearly 100% employment rate. Required courses cover topics including behavior therapy, observational methods, and single case experimental design. Students must also participate in a supervised practicum and directed research experience.

    To qualify for admission, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a background in applied behavior analysis — through coursework or experience. Applicants also need to submit GRE scores.

  2. Simmons University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $29601

    Simmons University is a private institution located in the heart of Boston. The university offers undergraduate programs for women and a coeducational graduate school, serving more than 6,500 students each year. Online offerings at Simmons include programs in public health, nursing, social work, and behavior analysis.

    The school's online master's degree in behavior analysis prepares graduates to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's examination. Students complete a 42-credit curriculum, including 2,000 hours of supervised fieldwork. During fieldwork, Simmons-appointed board certified behavior analysts host individual and group mentoring sessions in live, online classrooms.

    Prospective students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a bachelor's degree. Applicants need to submit a current resume, an essay, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

  3. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $36727

    Drexel University is a major research university with a global reach and a commitment to experiential learning. Online students at Drexel receive access to numerous virtual support services, a large professional network, and opportunities to study abroad. The school offers an online master's in applied behavior analysis, which requires 46-48 credits.

    Core courses cover behavioral interventions, measurement and experimental design, and ethical considerations. Three concentration options are available, in autism spectrum disorders; social, emotional, and behavioral wellness; and fieldwork. All students must complete a thesis or a practitioner capstone course.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay. Individuals also need to participate in an interview.

  4. Bay Path University
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    Tuition

    $21100

    Bay Path University is a private institution with a main campus located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. A member of the Women's College Coalition, Bay Path has a long history of serving women in its undergraduate programs. However, the university's more than 30 graduate programs — including a master's in applied behavior analysis — are coeducational.

    Behavior analysis students can take courses entirely online or in a blended format. The 48-credit, five-semester program covers topics related to behavioral assessment and evaluation, ethical practice, and research methods. Independent and supervised fieldwork experiences are interwoven throughout the program.

    Applicants must provide official transcripts, an essay, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation. Bay Path accepts applications throughout the year, with program start dates available in February and October.

  5. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $13642

    Ball State University is a public institution in Muncie, Indiana, serving upwards of 20,000 students each year. Ball State extends academic opportunities to learners across the country through its flexible online programs. Asynchronous course delivery provides extra convenience for those with professional and/or personal obligations.

    Ball State's online master's degree in applied behavior analysis offers an emphasis in autism and is well suited for students from a variety of educational backgrounds, including psychology, education, and social work. The 30-credit curriculum requires classes in behavioral consultation and verbal behavior, as well as a field-based experience. Participants can graduate in two years.

    Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree and a 2.75 minimum GPA from a regionally accredited institution. However, Ball State does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

  6. Daemen College
    Location

    Amherst, NY

    Tuition

    $17672

    Daemen College is a private school located in Amherst, New York. Approximately 2,500 students attend each year, enjoying small class sizes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1. Although the school is primarily residential, Daemen College offers online options for several programs, including its master's in applied behavior analysis.

    The 31-credit program can be completed in 18 months and is designed to prepare graduates for licensure and certification in New York. Required courses cover topics in functional assessment, maintenance of client records, and issues of cultural diversity. All students must also complete a final capstone research project.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit a resume, written statement, and two letters of recommendation. Interviews are also required.

  7. Arcadia University
    Location

    Glenside, PA

    Tuition

    $28205

    Arcadia University is a private institution in Glenside, Pennsylvania, serving more than 3,500 students each year. Several of the school's programs can be completed online, including a master of education with a concentration in applied behavioral analysis. All instructors in this program are board certified behavior analysts with extensive experience in the field.

    The 36-credit curriculum provides specialized knowledge and skills, preparing graduates to work effectively in schools, homes, organizations, and communities. A culminating research project is required. Students looking to meet requirements to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's certification exam can take advantage of Arcadia's optional practicum opportunities in the Tri-State area.

    Arcadia accepts applications on a rolling basis and recommends a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students must provide official transcripts and two letters of recommendation.

  8. University of Houston-Victoria
    Location

    Victoria, TX

    Tuition

    $10458

    The University of Houston-Victoria is a public institution boasting a catalog of more than 80 academic programs. A popular destination for online learners, approximately 40% of all undergraduates and 70% of all graduates enroll exclusively in distance education courses. Among UHV's online programs is a master of education in special education with a concentration in applied behavior analysis.

    Required courses explore behavior analysis from philosophical, historical, ethical, and applied practice perspectives. While the 39-credit course sequence satisfies curriculum requirements needed to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's exam, students are responsible for arranging their own supervised experience hours. Additionally, students must complete a final comprehensive exam on site in Victoria or Katy, Texas.

    UHV accepts graduate applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students must provide two letters of reference and a statement of purpose. GRE or MAT scores are typically required, although some students may qualify for a waiver.

  9. Southeast Missouri State University
    Location

    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Tuition

    $12468

    Nearly 12,000 students attend Southeast Missouri State University each year, enrolling in more than 145 undergraduate and 75 graduate programs. Forty-four percent of graduate students at SEMO enroll exclusively in distance education programs, including the school's master's in applied behavior analysis degree track.

    The 42-credit curriculum consists of eight core classes, 750 on-site practicum hours, and a comprehensive examination. Flexible, asynchronous course delivery allows students to complete this two-year, six-semester program at their convenience. This program prepares students to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's examination.

    For admission consideration, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Two letters of recommendation and a letter of intent are also required. New cohorts begin each fall semester.

  10. St. Cloud State University
    Location

    Saint Cloud, MN

    Tuition

    $13816

    St. Cloud State University is a comprehensive public university in Minnesota that boasts about 200 undergraduate programs, 60 graduate programs, and hundreds of online courses. Students who pursue an online master's degree in applied behavior analysis are prepared for careers as clinical behavior therapists, education behavior support specialists, and behavior analysts.

    The program offers a 45-credit thesis track and a 46-credit comprehensive exam track. Coursework provides advanced training in behavior analysis, community integration strategies, program evaluation, and staff development. All students complete 750 hours in an approved clinical internship setting where they are supervised by a licensed psychologist or certified behavior analyst.

    Admission requires a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and submission of official transcripts, recommendation forms, and a statement of intent. However, GRE scores are not required.

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